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Rex Richardson and Matt Mahan: Pass Assembly Bill 645 to pilot lifesaving speed safety cameras

Speeding can save a minute, but slowing down can save a life. This has never been more true than it is today across California.

Last year, 35 residents of Long Beach,  65 residents of San Jose and over 312 residents of Los Angeles lost their lives in traffic accidents. These preventable deaths disproportionately affect our most vulnerable neighbors — seniors and unhoused residents. And perhaps shockingly, in each of these major cities, these preventable deaths surpassed the homicide rate.

The most common cause of these accidents? Speeding.

Too many California families have had to experience the devastating consequences of someone’s commute mattering more than the life of their loved one.

Too many California families mourn the deaths of children, grandparents, husbands and wives — lives we could have saved using technology that collects dust on our shelves.

That’s why we need to take immediate steps to reduce speeding and save lives. The first step is to implement speed safety cameras in California. Assembly Bill 645, introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, creates a pilot program that will launch these cameras in six cities: Long Beach, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Glendale.

These cameras are not unproven technology. They have been implemented successfully in over 150 communities across the country, including major cities like Washington, D.C. and New York. According to studies, these cameras can reduce crashes on city streets by 54%.

Under this bill, these cameras will initially be placed in school zones, on the most dangerous intersections, and in areas with a history of sideshow activity. Specific streets in each city will be selected using data and in direct collaboration with the community.

We understand that some opponents have privacy concerns regarding these cameras. However, an amendment adopted at the latest hearing of the bill clarified that these cameras only capture images of license plates, not video footage or photos of the driver. These pictures are only retained for five days if no violation is issued, and 60 days if a speeding violation is detected.

This legislation only hurts people who are putting others’ lives at risk. No one will be burdened by this if they abide by our traffic lives.

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And as mayors of two cities fighting hard to end traffic deaths, we wholeheartedly support this life-saving initiative. We have a fundamental responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our communities. State legislators have repeatedly made efforts to bring this technology to the streets and intersections that need it the most. We urge you to support this common-sense safety bill and call on your representatives to do the same. The more our legislators hear from us, the better they will be able to represent us.

In the coming months, there will be many opportunities to help push this legislation forward. Before May 18, you can call your state representatives to urge them to support this common-sense safety bill.

San Jose and Long Beach are lucky to be two of the six pilot cities included in this bill. Now, we need to make sure it passes — our safety is in our own hands. If we don’t do our part to champion this legislation, we will miss our chance to save lives.

Rex Richardson is mayor of Long Beach. Matt Mahan is mayor of San Jose.

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